them changes

By Diogenes (articles ) | Feb 28, 2007

I've lost count of the number of news stories that, over the past decade, have breathlessly predicted the Holy See was on the verge of approving condoms. All were groundless. All served their purpose, though, inasmuch as they created a public expectation for the change their instigators wished to see occur. Framed as a medical crisis (the AIDS epidemic), the change campaigned for is a change in moral teaching.

Ruth Gledhill of the London Times, who's had a rough couple weeks of it herself, puts up a post in extenuation of a recent floater by the Financial Times, which reported on February 19th that the Pope would green-light marital condoms on February 22nd. He didn't (John Allen has some astringent remarks on the journalistic shoddiness involved). Take a look at the following snippets from Gledhill:

Overseas aid agencies are watching closely. John Coventry of ActionAid told me: "The possibility that the Vatican could soften its position on the use of condoms is potentially a very exciting development in the fight against HIV and Aids. The Catholic Church does some outstanding work on the front line of HIV care and treatment in countries like Mozambique, where 16 per cent of the population live with HIV and there is just one doctor to each 30,000 people."

To borrow Mark Steyn's epidemiological vocabulary: for whom, exactly, would it be "a very exciting development" for the Catholic Church to switch to the Dogs-in-Heat model of the human prerogative: uninfected Mozambicans, or anglophone professors of gender studies with pec implants? Back to Coventry:

"But what matters is what works. For too long anti-condom ideology has got in the way of pragmatic approaches to preventing the spread of the disease."

Got that? Christian moral doctrine has been reborn in disease-control jargon as "anti-condom ideology." Note that Coventry's pragmatism doesn't extend to urging the unsurpassably pragmatic anti-infection strategies of chastity and monogamy.

"The truth on the ground is that this disease hits young women hardest -- in some parts of Africa young women are six times more likely to be infected as young men in the same age group. Young women need to know that it is morally acceptable to use condoms as part of their anti-infection armoury. ActionAid research shows that the more educated a girl is the longer she will wait before having sex, when she does have sex she is more likely to use a condom and is consequently less likely to contract HIV."

Take a minute to re-read that last sentence (and call to mind Oscar Levant's crack about Doris Day: "I knew her before she became a virgin"). Education is a process effected over time. HIV infection occurs in a single moment and lasts as long as its host. By the reasoning of ActionAid, the less-educated the girl, the more potential moments of infection; whence the chances of a lass's employing her full "anti-infection armoury" vary inversely with the likelihood that it will be early enough to be worth bothering about.

Of course, any person capable of understanding the connection between copulation and death, and acting thereon, is capable of understanding the connection between human dignity and sexual morality, and acting thereon. It's the latter connection that's the embarrassment to Western élites and it's the latter connection that's broken by condom use, whence it's hardly a matter of indifference to the élites (and the journalists they employ) whether or not the Holy See sells the pass.

Are these recurring Vatican U-turns simply made up out of thin air by pro-condom journalists? Perhaps, from time to time, they are. But let's not kid ourselves. There's no shortage of Catholic clergymen, including those with excellent media contacts, whose interest in the mechanics of AIDS transmission is -- how shall we put it? -- not matched by a comparably profound concern for the five million cases of malaria reported annually in Mozambique. One imagines their alacrity in vindicating the sub-Saharan nuptial bond (Bishops Reggie Cawcutt and Kevin Dowling spring to mind) is so great that it momentarily tends to eclipse their passions for swamp drainage, insecticide spraying, and the greater availability of sulfadoxines. Doubtless it happens now and again that the media personnel with whom forward-thinking ecclesiastics consort become infected by these enthusiasms and unwittingly convert them into news stories.

They're contagious, after all.

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  • Posted by: - Mar. 01, 2007 10:24 PM ET USA

    HPV "human papillomavirus" the cause of the majority cases of cervical cancer which kills 3,700 women nation wide every year. HPV is spread by sexual contact, skin contact from the knees to the navel. a condom is not protection. I suppose a culture that condones the lifestyle of Nicole Smith,Brittany Spears,Paris Hilton, the girls gone wild etal it would be naive to suggest abstinance.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 01, 2007 1:47 PM ET USA

    The 'girl' thinks: If I have sex outside marriage I am in sin but I will do it anyway but I won't use a condom because I might be in sin. You don't need a PHD to realize that is not a logical thought. Have these idiots even tried to do a survey and find out why the infected girl isn't using a condom. Here is a guess: Too much of a bother: 60% Used but ineffective: 25% None available: 10% What is a condom: 4.5% It is a sin: .5% Abstinence has never caused a single case of AIDS.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 01, 2007 9:42 AM ET USA

    The AIDS fundraising circuit is where the rubber hits the road.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 28, 2007 8:22 PM ET USA

    Why Uncle Di, I do believe that you have created a new word in this fine statement "Coventry's pragmatism doesn't extend to urging the unsurpassably pragmatic anti-infection strategies of chastity and monogamy." In any case I think that it is unlikely that very many people who engage in promiscuous sex are much deterred by what our Church says about such details as condoms. They want the Pope to give in on all sexual proscriptions, and the condom issue is the camel's nose under the tent.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 28, 2007 6:59 PM ET USA

    Urgently await Steven Mosher's new book on the anti-people movement and the nasty things we have been doing in Africa to depopulate that continent. Shall we do even more? Shall we remove the only thing that works against the anti-people movement (i.e. the Church)?

  • Posted by: - Feb. 28, 2007 6:49 PM ET USA

    They need to start telling the truth about condoms. A condom is manufactured to a standard of having no holes larger than 5 microns in diameter. (Don't forget condoms are made from latex--a derivative of rubber, a porous material.) The HIV virus is ONE (1) micron in diameter. How many 1 micron viruses can fit through a 5 micron wide hole? Lots. We need to return to an effective birth control and really safe-sex method: "NO!". Then we won't have to worry about some diseases so much.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 28, 2007 5:50 PM ET USA

    I think there is a certain unspoken racism in the these so-called progressives. They are so keen for Africans to use condoms and be more like us i.e. fewer Africans. They are not so keen to sort out Malaria as that would no doubt mean more Africans.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 28, 2007 4:11 PM ET USA

    And a condom is effective approximately 92% of the time. So, every woman who has sex has a one in ten chance to aquire aids every time she has sex. I wonder what that would do to the current 16% infection rate? Thank God there are people like Mr. Coventry to look after humanity.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 28, 2007 3:09 PM ET USA

    Is it possible that those who seek so avidly for the Vatican to "change its mind" about condoms are less interested in comdoms than in the Vatican "changing its mind"? Because if doctrine on sexual morality can change, then what can't? And if anything can, what claim does the "Vatican" have to being the body of Christ?

  • Posted by: - Feb. 28, 2007 1:54 PM ET USA

    But you see, condoms retain a certain panache--ala NYC Mayor Bloomberg--among the haute monde of the progressive class of clergy and media. Whereas DDT's reduction of malaria affects mostly shoeless peasants emitting noxious carbon dioxide anyways. Besides, give them DDT and the next thing they'll want is a well for clean water. And do we really want to digress from sex into matters such as mosquitos and dysentery? Not front page stuff to be sure.